Food bank charity reports surge in donations after critical newspaper report

The Trussell Trust has received more than £50,000 in donations after an article in The Mail on Sunday claimed the charity did not carry out adequate checks on its users

A food bank run by the Trussell Trust
A food bank run by the Trussell Trust

The food bank charity the Trussell Trust has reported a surge in donations after an article in The Mail on Sunday criticised its practices.

The newspaper ran an article in which it criticised the charity for letting people collect food without "proper checks" and claimed that it broke its own rules about how many times people could take free food.

The newspaper said the charity’s volunteers told its undercover reporters that fraudsters and asylum seekers regularly claimed food parcels.

The newspaper investigation was prompted by statistics from the charity that showed more than 913,000 people received emergency food from it in 2013/14, compared with 347,000 in 2012/13.

But after the article was published on Sunday, a backlash on social media against The Mail on Sunday's story resulted in the Trussell Trust receiving more than £50,000 in donations over the Easter weekend.

In January, the charity began an Easter-themed fundraising campaign on its JustGiving page called Help Crack UK Hunger, which by last Saturday had received £2,000 from 238 donations.

But money began to pour into the charity’s JustGiving page on Sunday; it accounted for more than £57,000 from 4,700 donations by lunchtime today.

The campaign asked the public to donate the cost of an Easter egg to prevent hunger in the UK. Many of those making donations cited The Mail on Sunday’s story as their reason for doing so.

"A general rule of thumb – anything the Mail criticises is probably a good thing that needs support," wrote one donor on the JustGiving site.

Another said: "Hateful people at the Mail – I hope you are proud of the fundraising you have done for this worthwhile charity. Keep up the good work… ha, ha, ha."

Another donor wrote: "I had no idea who you were until The Mail on Sunday so blatantly abused a food bank. Please keep up the good work."

The charity said it had processes regarding fraud at its food bank and said it would investigate The Mail on Sunday’s claims and make sure staff and volunteers were aware of its guidelines. But it said that the newspaper’s tactics were unacceptable.

"There will always be those who try to abuse a system, which is why the Trussell Trust has a number of processes built into its system to reduce that risk," a spokeswoman said. "The Trussell Trust feels that these undercover methods, used by Mail on Sunday journalists to enter the premises of our voluntarily run food banks, are an unacceptable attempt to tarnish not only the name of the Trussell Trust, but also the valuable efforts of the 30,000 volunteers who selflessly give up their time to provide a valuable service to people in real need."

The charity thanked everyone who had donated to its campaign and said it had been "overwhelmed" by the public’s generosity.

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